This is the most common question we receive regarding font licensing. As we have covered in our Help article, the short answer is “yes,” if the font in question utilizes our Font EULA. But the real test is in the license for the particular font(s) you want to use. Some licenses allow the use, and some do not. We asked several top type designers for their take, and received a variety of answers, although everyone agreed on one basic premise: read the license.
Mark Simonson, designer of the ever-popular Proxima Nova family doesn’t have any problem with people using his fonts in logos. “Fonts are tools, not art, in my opinion,” he says. “The one thing I do mention to people who ask is that, if they use my fonts in a logo, that they not share the font with unlicensed users who need to use the logo, since that would violate the license. The way around this is to convert the logo to a vector graphic or pixel image.”
Laura Worthington, designer of Shelby, echoes Mark’s sentiment, saying, “(If you) use an existing font to create a logo, convert it to outlines (where the letters have been turned into a graphic element) and modify it to make it more unique. Not only is this a good idea from a design perspective, but it also could help you avoid potential trademark infringement. However, make sure the license allows for modification! While many allow modification of a font that has been outlined, almost all EULAs disallow the modification of the font itself, and this is a point of confusion with many people in reviewing EULAs.”
Stuart Sandler of Font Diner, designer/administrator of many fonts, including Coffee Service from Sideshow, seconds that emotion, saying, “Even if the top of the EULA states (such use) is granted, read lower to determine if any other restrictions apply such as broadcast uses, embedded game or app uses, eBook uses, etc. Also, keep in mind, if you see the phrase ‘derivative works’ in the EULA (of which a logo generally is), the EULA still applies in full force so make sure you do your homework!”
Patrick Griffin of Canada Type, producer of the popular Gibson, recommends the same, saying, “It seems counter-productive for font developers to disallow such use, but the reality is that some do forbid it. Some foundries cap the amount of impressions the font is used for, some disallow embedding, etc. Also, some EULAs seem intentionally ambiguous about certain uses. If you encounter any kind of vagueness about your intended use of the font, reach out to the foundry and ask for specifics. ‘Forewarned is forearmed,’ like they say!”
Peter Rosenfeld of URW++, who just released URW Geometric, says much the same, sharing that “as long as a created logo is used as EPS or any other graphic format, there is no problem with our license.” He went on to express a sentiment that many of us feel, saying “licensing has become quite complex for both foundries and users. Foundries ought to be as specific as possible regarding the scope of permitted usages in their license documents.”
So what’s the answer?
That there is no “one size fits all” answer. In general, “yes,” but be informed and read the license. And if you’re still confused, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any font license questions you might have.